Prestige and Respect
Respected and admired by their peers, clients and society, CPAs are often viewed as an elite group of professionals. After years of academic and technical training – and passing the rigorous CPA exam – a CPA's ethics and character are further tested with several years of extensive on-the-job training. For all of this, CPAs achieve a level of expertise and proficiency beyond that of a "standard" accountant – proudly earning them the designation of CPA.
Having a CPA license is a good way to stand out from the crowd to potential employers, who are often impressed with accountants who have earned their CPA license. Earning a CPA license demonstrates a commitment to the profession and often highlights potential candidates for leadership and management positions. A CPA license is also necessary for those who desire to rise to higher levels of authority and responsibility. It is not uncommon for seasoned accountants to return to school to earn a Master's Degree in Accounting so they can become a licensed CPA and get the promotion they deserve.
Due to a shortage in experienced accounting professionals in business today, CPAs are in more demand than ever before – and that doesn't seem to be changing any time soon. The main reason for this shortage is due to a dip in accounting students in the 1990's when the Internet was booming and students sought jobs in IT and online marketing. The Sarbanes-Oxley act, passed in 2002, also drove up the need for qualified CPAs to enforce the new higher standards of public corporate accounting. The final straw is the Baby Boomers, who are retiring and leaving a tremendous gap in the market, which is also felt in the academic world as more and more accounting professors retire.
Job Satisfaction and Variety
CPAs are typically multi-talented professionals who perform a mix of highly-specialized job functions including Auditing, Business and Management Consulting, Information Technology (IT), International Financial Reporting and Tax Advisory Services, to name a few. Almost every business encounters a financial situation at some point or another where it could benefit from the services of a CPA.
Furthermore, with the spread of globalization, the environment of accounting is changing. As the U.S. prepares to adopt International Financial Reporting Standards, CPAs face more opportunities to travel the world and gain international business experience – and those who are multi-lingual and multi-cultural will have an advantage over those without those skills.
Money and Benefits
When choosing a career, many people consider salary potential and benefits as important criteria, next to passion for the job. For new college graduates, a CPA license can mean a difference of 10% between them and their non-licensed peers (according to the 2009 Robert Half Salary Guide). Salary ranges for experienced CPAs in public practice are even better, ranging from $80,000 to $110,000.